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Diocese of Rockville Centre

Bishop's Homilies

The 26th President of the USA, our own Theodore Roosevelt, was probably the first president to recognize the power of the press and the media in a changing world. He himself was a master of the word in speeches and books. Today we know how much the media and social communication shape our lives and mould our own words.

Yet the WORD we speak of today in this Liturgy is essentially different from all those kinds of words. The Word we announce today is God’s Word! We can never fathom it in its completeness but we can, with today’s Gospel, believe in our hearts and proclaim with our lips that GOD’S WORD is eternal. Through His Word, God created the world. In various moments in history God revealed himself by words that called men and women to recognize that God has a plan for us all. The Chosen People of Israel were his special instruments to whom He spoke His word and called them to live according to His Word. In the fullness of time, the Word of God ceased being just a message and became a person: Jesus Christ; God’s Word made flesh.

Once we believe and proclaim this truth, we find ourselves in a changed world, the world where God’s love for us becomes more than a promise. It becomes a person who is the Son of God and the bearer of God’s light and love to a darkened world where Satan and the powers of evil constantly seek dominion. But today with the birth of Jesus we know that ultimately God’s word is victorious! Even now we share in the victory of God’s loving mercy in a world so often at war with itself. That is because the world often prefers the momentary pleasures and power and prestige that leave us disillusioned, empty of hope and desperate to escape the dark and find the light of life.

Today you and I, and all who have eyes to see, behold the most wondrous truth the world has ever known: God so loved the world that he sent his Son as one like us so that we might share in God’s own life and become one in Him. THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US! Not as an angel; not as a monster; not as a threat; not as an otherworldly power; BUT AS A BABY. He is born of a woman just like us. He shares with us a human mother, a family history, and a promise that goes beyond anything we could accomplish on our own.

No wonder the angels rejoice! No wonder the shepherds are struck with awe! Who would have thought that we would find the true answer to all our hopes and dreams, all that is right and true and good in a baby lying in a manger? God has taken our very human nature and made our human nature the bearer of his divinity, his life, his love.

Now everything is changed. Now our lives find their true meaning. What we say, what we do, how we live, and how we interact with one another have a new measure and a new source: human life is now where one can find divine life. Divine life changes the meaning and the value of human life. And so we too rejoice. We too give thanks. By the very fact of our being here today, we too embrace God’s Son and sing Glory to God, peace on earth. Our being here with open and grateful hearts allows Jesus to unite us with him as sharers in the truth and the love of our Merciful Father.

Isaiah’s song today is a song of joy that one day there will be a Messiah who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation and saying, Your God is King. That certainly is a meant to herald the birth of Jesus. But I would like to suggest that these words of Isaiah apply to us as well. We who rejoice that Jesus is one with us must also be bearers of glad tidings, good news, peace and salvation. If so, then, of you too the prophet can say how beautiful on the mountains are your feet because you and I who have seen the glory of God in this child now share not only in his life but in his mission.

And how much does the world of today need to hear our words reflect the truth of God’s word, words of men and women who are honest and fair, who do not exploit others; who tell the truth, who care for the poor, welcome the stranger, reach out to the suffering, offer a helping hand and a sincere heart especially to those who may be different from us or not have the advantages we have. Then our words reflect the Word made flesh, the message of Jesus. Our actions bring His light into the world and reveal God’s glory in our world.

How much does our world need that today! No one should have to flee his or her home. Yet the plight of millions of refugees fleeing persecution and violence is proof the darkness still pervades the world. In the Middle East, violence and terrorism must be brought to an end; rejection and hatred put aside. Longstanding divisions can be overcome when those who support the legitimate rights of Palestinians are equally committed to defending the right of Israel to exist in safety and security.

In our country during this election year, how good it would be to hear candidates speak with kindness and understanding for the good of all; defending human life especially in the womb and caring for all, especially the elderly. How blessed we would be if pressure groups looked out not just for their own interests but for the common good with respect for human dignity that we exercise in a freedom that is God’s gift to us created in His own image.
Yes. My friends, we too, like Jesus, have come into this world to share a mission, the mission of bearing witness to God’s message of salvation that we live as brothers and sisters of His Son. He is the powerful Word whose presence among us saves, whose birth this day changes the world and whose love is everlasting. He became flesh and dwells among us and we have seen his glory as the Father’s own Son, full of grace and truth!